2018 Year in Review — blockbird.ventures

We get to the end of 2018 and it’s time to look back into what happened this year. 2018 was what we call Y0 for blockbird.ventures as the company was only born on the 7th of June.

Unlike many other blockchain and crypto startups we survived the market downterm and have built some solid foundations for future sustainable growth. This tells us that our strategy not to tackle the ICO’s market craze was probably right.

We have built a strong brand, we are financially healthy, have a very committed team and, perhaps most importantly, we have built a reputation for ourselves. Such reputation is mainly materialised on three aspects:

  1. We are still here unlike many other “companies” and “blockchain experts”. People continue hearing and reading about blockbird.ventures.
  2. We won two important prizes (within our National context): the REN Energy Blockchain Challenge and the Blockchain Innovation Challenge
  3. Several mentions to blockbird.ventures on major Portuguese written media, throughout the year (PC Guia; Jornal Expresso or Eco).

I am emphasising this topic of reputation because it is at the core of our strategy for 2019 and the upcoming years. I will get to it later.

WE ARE REVAMPING BLOCKBIRD.LABS AND WILL BE OFFERING OFFICE SPACE TO PROMISING ENTREPRENEURS AND ENGINEERS IN 2019

This year saw many people gathering around our mission: democratize and spread blockchain technology and decentralised solutions.

We currently have an active Slack community, from London based Blockchain Engineers, to young promising Portuguese Lawyers with a passion for blockchain, to Pharmaceutical students doing their master thesis around blockchain technology. This is something we can’t ignore.

That is why in 2019 we will be committed to grow and engage this community around building the decentralised future: we will be offering office space (and some other perks) to people and teams wanting to develop and work on new blockchain solutions starting in 2019!

WE HAVE BUILT OUR FIRST SCALABLE PRODUCT AND CLOSED A PARTNERSHIP WITH ST. LOUIS HOSPITAL DO DEVELOP AN MVP

As you know, in addition to our blockchain Consulting work — which takes a big slice of our time — our goal is to develop truly scalable products. This year our research revolved around the energy and the healthcare sectors.

  • Energy

We have won the Energy Blockchain Challenge and conversations with REN are ongoing— we look forward to the next steps and developments. Other promising contacts made within the industry seemed to have cooled as the crypto market crashed. We are happy none of these took off as it seems they were just making use of the hype.

  • Healthcare

Regarding our healthcare focus, we seem to be on the verge of launching our first scalable product: blockbird.data — a next generation privacy management software powered by blockchain technology. We will initially focus on the healthcare industry for which we already have a pilot client (St. Louis Hospital) with whom to develop an mvp.

Recently, we were joined by Jose Varatojo and Mick Lynch who played a key role in getting our product off the ground and will be heading blockbird.data’s growth and product development efforts. We are currently raising seed funding and the goal is to close the round in Q1 2019.

OTHER ASPECTS OF OUR BUSINESS

Still looking back, our Blockchain Academy didn’t scale. Perhaps we did not have the resources, or the right strategy, or the market just wasn’t there. The truth is that having a solid value proposition around education is complicated.

This is why starting in 2019 we will incorporate our education objectives into our Labs. We believe we can be more efficient in facilitating blockchain learning than in teaching blockchain itself.

Finally it is relevant noting that we have invested around 15% of our revenues in team members training/development as well as into our blockbird.data product. We hope to see the results of this investment in the upcoming year.

LOOKING AT THE FUTURE

If 2018 was the year where we consolidated our mission and started building our reputation, it was also the year where we’ve figured out our true vision.

“We believe in a World where value and ownership are transferred instantaneously with no need for any type of intermediation that guarantees an immutable and truthful record of transactions or other type of digital information.”

We have spent many hours brainstorming around what would be our vision statement because it helps us define who we really are and where we want to go. It gives us the recipe for success not in one year or two, but in the long run.

A vision statement is an understanding of the future and if we grasp such future better than everyone else, we can start building it today when no one else is yet doing it. And when the time comes, we shall be one step ahead.

Our vision statement helped us understand that we want to be the number one blockchain startup in Portugal — first. And a major blockchain player in Europe and Worldwide — later.

This is where reputation comes in again. How do we build reputation?

Rule #1: reputation comes with age. By keeping the business alive we are building reputation. We are in it for the long run — patience is wisdom.

Rule #2: we build reputation by having the best team. We must have the best blockchain engineers, the best managers and the best innovators. This is a priority for 2019.

Rule #3: we consolidate reputation by building stuff. If we stick to our vision, we shall start developing today the solutions of tomorrow. Timing is of essence here. We need to understand the future better than everyone else — and start building it already.

How will people do commerce with each other and with businesses? What about machines? Where is the finance sector going? How will people handle their health issues? And their data? What about privacy? What will be the role of Governments? How will the way we commute change? How fast will AI develop and in which direction? How will bigger issues like climate change or the rise of geopolitical unilateralism change our habits, demands and concerns?

We need and should — if we really are entrepreneurs — always be one step ahead of time. But we shall never forget rule #1. We can’t build a reputation if we can’t keep the business alive. Planning and dreaming of the future, must not come at the cost of sabotaging our present.

These are our guidelines for 2019. Our promise is to stay true to our mission and vision. To grow our consulting business and build upon sustainability. To hire the best engineers and consolidate our reputation. To invest in growing and nurture our community. To successfully launch blockbird.data and scale its business. And to build the solutions of a decentralised future, even if they don’t totally make sense yet today.

Finally, I want to thank everyone for their work and contributions during 2018. It was great to see so many people willing to help and participate without expecting anything back. I am confident 2019 will be a year of great success for blockbird.ventures, for each one of us personally and for the blockchain ecosystem in general.

Looking forward for the decades to come,

Jose Figueiredo